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The six factors of highly successful volunteer programs 

Recently, Canadians celebrated the transformative impact of volunteerism on communities across our country. From lending a helping hand to championing causes close to the heart, volunteers embody the essence of altruism and solidarity. 

Many companies include employee volunteer programs as part of their community engagement. A well-designed volunteer initiative can generate many hours of community volunteerism while enhancing productivity, elevating employee engagement, and bolstering recruitment and retention efforts; all while fostering a tangible positive impact on society.

For a decade, LBG Canada has analyzed data from our annual member survey to identify the key factors that distinguish highly successful volunteer programs. These insights have illuminated six common characteristics that underpin thriving initiatives, serving as a roadmap for organizations aiming to maximize their community impact through employee engagement. 

Let’s delve into these six factors. Each one plays a pivotal role in driving participation and amplifying the efficacy of volunteer programs. 

Factor 1: Budget 

This may sound obvious since nothing can run without a budget. Supplies, t-shirts, food, transport… funds are often essential to bring a volunteer experience to life. However, volunteer strategies struggle without resources more often than you might think. A dedicated, appropriately funded budget can remove that struggle.   

Factor 2: Clarity 

There can be confusion between volunteering organized by the employer (a specific event), volunteering enabled by the employer (work time made available, matching/rewards dollars etc.), and volunteering that is individually motivated (after hours, but unconnected to work). Clarity about the nature of the volunteering work and how it will be reported by the company can be a helpful motivator for volunteers. For example, an employee may shy away from volunteering if they worry that their individual efforts will be presented as company time.    

Factor 3: Leadership 

Evidence of a senior leader, or leaders, contributing as volunteers has influence. Companies with executive champions—leaders that “walk the talk”—have higher rates of participation.   

Factor 4: Communications 

It’s all well and good to organize an event, but if you don’t share information or invite and encourage colleagues to join in, participation suffers. Too many volunteer programs operate without communications resources. Supportive communications can make a world of difference to the success of a volunteer program.   

Factor 5: Employee recognition 

Celebrating volunteers raises awareness of the work done by others. This stimulates others to join and contribute. A strategy to recognize and celebrate increases overall participation.    

Factor 6: Support from the middle 

Employees can feel conflicted if they want to respond to a leadership call to volunteer yet are uncertain of their manager’s position. While this is only an issue for volunteer time during work hours concern, it is a serious one. Clear support of managers when it comes to giving time and talent to community has a direct influence on participation numbers.    

These six factors, when combined, form the bedrock of successful employee volunteer programs. Organizations that embrace these principles not only witness higher participation rates but also experience a profound sense of purpose and fulfillment among their workforce. 

At LBG Canada, we’re committed to leveraging our extensive dataset to empower organizations in optimizing their community investment, volunteering and giving programs for maximum impact.  

If you’re eager to experience how performance data can help to maximize the impact of your programming, lets talk.